The Vees are victorious.
The Penticton Vees are B.C. Hockey League champions after they defeated the Nanaimo Clippers 3-2 in overtime of Game 6 on Friday night at Frank Crane Arena.
“You’re so excited for your teammates,” said Patrick Sexton, Vees captain, describing the moment. “You fight for six, seven, eight months with these guys just to be able to accomplish this championship. It’s such a great feeling.”
It was another short overtime, as Dakota Conroy scored the championship-winning goal two minutes into OT. He was able to steal a puck that was caught up in an opponent’s skates and had time and space to make a move on the goalie and score the winner.
“That’s a feeling you can’t really explain,” he said. “I just tried to get in the corner and get my stuff off and hope that I didn’t get mauled by my teammates there.”
The game stayed 0-0 until the last 10 minutes of the third period, when the Vees twice surged ahead and the Clippers twice tied it up. Dante Fabbro and Riley Alferd scored for Penticton, with Spencer Hewson and Brett Roulston replying for Nanaimo.
Shots ended up 42-29 in favour of the Vees, with Hunter Miska earning the win and Guillaume Decelles suffering the loss.
“We were down twice, clawed our way back, gave ourselves a chance; I like the spirit and the heart that we played with,” said Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach. “I couldn’t ask more of our guys when it came to that.”
The Vees ended up winning four straight games in the finals after dropping the first two at home. Vees coach Fred Harbinson talked about his players’ resolve.
“They just found different ways to kind of stay in the moment and not panic and they came to work every day…” he said. “To win championships, it’s never easy. It’s such a fine line.”
Conroy said even after dropping the first two games of the series, the Vees felt like they had the team to win it, and showed resilience. Sexton said the squad’s depth was also a factor.
“[The Clippers] had some guys that had to play some hard minutes against our top lines and at the end of the day, our guys found a way to win,” he said.
Nanaimo captain Brendan Taylor said his team should have realized, after going up two games to none, how big the next game was.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that and we let them back in the series and they carried the momentum,” he said.
But he knows his team battled to the end.
“We put all our heart in it all year and we unfortunately didn’t come out with the result, but there was no doubt that everyone on our team wanted to win,” Taylor said.
GAME ON … The Vees advance to the Western Canada Cup starting April 25 in Fort McMurray, Alta.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) April 18, 2015